Plenty of football players exercise on Chestatee High School’s field — it’s the exercising of their faith that atheists object to! Georgia locals found that out the hard way when the bullies at the American Humanist Association lined up against the team’s posters and prayers. In a move that’s almost comical, the national group sent an undercover photographer to practices and games, hoping to catch the team in an act of blatant religiosity. “We have received reports,” AHA insisted, “that CHS coaches have joined players in prayer while standing in a circle, hands interlocked.” Gasp!
The organization’s legal team fired off a letter to the Hall School District, complaining that the tradition somehow violated the Establishment Clause. Among other things, AHA explained, the team’s workout schedule and one cheerleader sign included Bible verse references: “Iron Sharpens Iron, Proverbs 21:17” and “Fortitude 2014, Gal. 6:9.”
Fortitude is something the team must have already perfected, because the coaches and players aren’t about to back down. On Thursday, the town crowded the football field for an impromptu prayer rally — as more than 200 people turned out to tell the atheists that if they don’t like the prayer “stick their fingers in their ears!”
Even the district’s congressman, Doug Collins (R), was offended. “The liberal atheist interest groups trying to bully Chestatee High School kids say they have a reason to believe that expressions of religious freedom are ‘not an isolated event’ in Northeast Georgia,” Collins said. “They’re right. In Hall County and throughout Georgia’s 9th District, we understand and respect the Constitution and cherish our right to worship in our own way.”
It’s “disgusting,” he told Fox News’s Todd Starnes, “that while innocent lives are being lost in Iraq and other places at the hands of radical religious terrorists, a bunch of Washington lawyers are finding the time to pick on kids in Northeast Georgia.” That certainly helped embolden the local superintendent, who showed no signs of cowering to the seven-page demand letter. In the meantime, we commend the families of Chestatee High for standing their ground. No matter how it turns out, it’s encouraging to see what happens when the community becomes the biggest cheerleader for religious rights!
Tony Perkins heads the Family Research Council. This article is excerpted from the Washington Update that he compiles for the FRC.
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